“They often say that you have to hit rock bottom before you can bounce back up. It’s always darkest before the dawn. You got to go through hell before you get to heaven. All that rot. ‘They’ are usually full of shit, but sometimes they actually get it right.” — Spike
There was a bounce to her step as she slipped through the cemetery. They’d made it through the latest crisis with no casualties, getting both halves of Xander back together. And, hey, majorly weird as it had been, some good had come out of the whole thing. Confident Xander had gotten the whole Xander package out of that nasty basement, and away from the even nastier situation that was his family.
And Riley had told her that he wouldn’t have wanted her two halves separated. That he loved both the slayer and the girl. So, all-in-all, the whole Toth situation and his femur gremlin or whatever had actually made things better. Everything in the world of Buffy was of the good.
Or at least it should have been. The bounce started to fade. Had maybe only been there because she wanted it to be. Riley’s mouth had said that he accepted both halves of her, but his actions for a while now had been busy shouting, “I am a big, macho guy, here to help the weak little girl.” That’s why he’d had to say the words. Because his actions made her feel….
He’d wanted to come on patrol with her again tonight. He hadn’t said it — she’d done her whole babble-girl routine before heading out specifically so he couldn’t get a word in edgewise — but she’d known.
She patrolled with the others a lot, but there were times when she just needed some solitary slay time. Her friends got that. Why didn’t Riley? He’s my boyfriend. Why doesn’t he get this stuff? Hell, Spike seems to understand me better than Riley does sometimes. Of course, Spike had technically known her longer, and had always been weirdly insightful, especially when it came to her. Maybe it wasn’t entirely fair to hold it against Riley.
She didn’t really feel like being fair at the moment. She felt like slaying something. The sound of guttural voices chanting drifted to her on the wind, and she smiled, perking up. Time to take out some demons.
“How do I love thee?” Spike sang as he wandered drunkenly through the cemetery. “So delicious and oniony. Thy batter is crisp, petals sharp-tasting. Such a… glorious sight mine eyes do behold. A delicate flower, burnished gold.”
He blinked and stopped. He’d just composed a bloody love song about onion flowers. Just how much had he drunk anyway? Things were a bit fuzzy after the third bottle of Jack. He’d gone to the Bronze after that for a few pints and one of those onion flowers. And to chat up a few of the college girls that were always hanging about. He vaguely remembered all that, but not really any of the particulars.
Probably for the best, honestly. All those delectable morsels, and not even able to take so much as a sip. Bloody depressing it was, even without being able to remember all the details. God, he was pathetic, wasn’t he? Spending all his time talking to those girls, but he was still alone. No one to love. No one to eat. Naught but a pathetic, lonely shadow of a vampire living on animal blood like a filthy hobo.
And as the drunk faded, he was getting perilously close to brooding. Ugh. He hadn’t really any choice in the matter when it came to drinking animal blood, but damned if he was going to go all over broody like his wanker of a grandsire. He shook off the mood as best he could and started moving again. Get back to the crypt for a little telly and just enough booze to rediscover his mellow. He’d be right as rain in no time.
Or I could just go and pester the slayer, he thought with a grin as he spotted the little blonde thorn in his side stalking through the cemetery. She was heading towards the So’voriku demons he’d seen setting up a ritual earlier. The new telly he’d installed would still be there after sunrise. Best to get slayer taunting in while he could.
The rest of the night’s entertainment decided on, he trailed along behind her, quiet enough that she couldn’t hear him. She should have been able to sense him, but that had never been one of her strengths, especially when she was hyper focused on something else. That focus allowed him to creep up close enough to whisper in her ear.
“They’re pacifists for the most part, you know.” He grinned as she jumped slightly before whirling and backing away to glare at him. “That’s why I didn’t bother to take ‘em out. No sport to it. Though I hear they can get a mite violent if you threaten their sprogs.”
Rather secretive lot, the So’voriku, and that pretty much exhausted his knowledge of the species.
“I’m not here for sport,” she snapped. “I’m—”
The chanting suddenly stopped and a wave of magic swept through the cemetery, cutting the slayer off and sending her staggering with the force of it. He didn’t know if it was because she was a bit closer to the source or something else, but the magic only made him shiver slightly as a weird tingling sensation sizzled through his body.
Before he could shake it off, Buffy lunged at him, tackling him to the ground and pinning him flat on his back. At least she didn’t punch me in the nose. Yet. He braced, waiting for her fist to fly or for her to let him up. Neither happened. She shifted, going upright as she slid back to sit on his thighs. There was a strange, hungry look in her suddenly glazed eyes, like she was staring at a juicy piece of steak she fancied.
“Bloody hell, slayer,” he groused, propping himself up on his elbows and trying to pretend he wasn’t the least unnerved by her expression. “What was that all about?”
No answer. Just an annoyed grunt as she started unbuckling his belt. What the hell? What was she…? A frisson of panic tingled up his spine along with the burgeoning feeling of utter, complete helplessness. He shifted his weight onto one elbow, using his free hand to slap at hers, hard enough to send a warning twinge of pain through his head.
She didn’t even seem to notice.
“Oi, keep your filthy mitts off!” he yelled as she finished with his belt and began tugging at his zipper.
Oh god, this wasn’t happening. This couldn’t be…. She wasn’t really…. He could feel it creeping through him. The Pavlovian urge to just lay back and let it happen that Angelus and Darla had eventually trained into him.
“You must be at least this abso-sodding-lutely not the bloody slayer to ride the Spike.”
He wasn’t even fully aware of what he was saying, just trying to distract her. To pull her out of whatever the spell had done. In a perfect world, he would have been snuggled up somewhere far, far away with Dru. Instead he was in bloody Sunnydale, getting pawed at by the magic-crazed mega bitch who had been either directly or indirectly responsible for everything that had gone wrong for him in the past few years.
And now his zipper was open and her hands were…. And he couldn’t stop her without setting off the bloody chip.
Only chance I have, he thought in desperation. If he could just snap her out of it…. He braced himself as best he could and punched her.
Pain. White hot. Stabbing. His vision grayed out, and he clung to consciousness with every bit of strength of he had. A moment. An eternity. He wasn’t sure which, but it had been worth it. She was off him. She was—
There was a rustle of cloth, followed by his jeans being roughly yanked down past his knees. Then she was straddling his thighs, her bare skin pressed against his. Oh, god. Her hands on his hips, running up his body under the shirt. No. No, no, no. Could barely think as a new sensation overwhelmed the pain from the chip, threatening to drown him. Whatever the spell had done to her…. It had hit him differently, but it was there. The feel of her skin in direct contact….
She slid forward, her wet heat pressing against his hardening length as the pleasure dragged him down past coherent thought.
Buffy walked into Giles’s new — and as yet unopened — shop in time for the regularly scheduled Scooby meeting, a small statuette clutched in her hand. She’d found it when she’d checked the ritual site a few hours after… after…. Her mind shied away from what she’d done. It hadn’t really been…. He’d never actually said the word no.
“…any of our shared classes today. I always record the lectures, so she’s not going to miss out on much, but I’m getting really worried. It’s not like her to just skip without saying anything.”
Willow’s words to the others washed over her, barely comprehended. She couldn’t stop thinking about it. He hadn’t said no, but what he’d said and done had been a pretty big negatory. Oh god, please, no. I don’t want to think about this. She couldn’t get the image out of her head. The look of utter panic in his eyes as he’d punched her.
“Buffy? Buffy, are you okay?”
She blinked in confusion. Willow was standing right in front of her. When had the other girl moved? She’d been sitting at the table with the others just a second ago.
“I…” Buffy trailed off, looking down at the statuette in her hand.
She didn’t want to do this. She didn’t want them to know what she’d done. She didn’t want to know what she’d done. Maybe she wouldn’t have to tell them? Just hand over the doohickey and have them do the research thing and break the spell. She had to still be under it. It was the only way what she’d done afterward made any sense. When she’d….
Xander was there now, standing next to Willow. Either everyone was teleporting, or she was losing little bits of time. On the Hellmouth, both were equally possible. Then Giles moved to stand with the others, and she actually saw it. They were all staring at her, even Anya, who had stayed at the table with a book of crossword puzzles.
Oh god. They knew. They had to know. That’s why they were…. No. No, they couldn’t know. She hadn’t told anyone, and there was no way Spike could have. She’d made sure of that.
She squeezed her hands around the statuette, trying not to throw up. The chains and the gag. What she’d done to him after…. Oh, god.
She was vaguely aware of her surroundings as she was led farther into the store and gently pushed down into a chair. The bell over the door jingled, and a Riley-shaped body came in, making Riley-shaped noises. Then there was a Riley-shaped smell as he tried to hug her.
Basketball, she thought, starting to feel more connected to reality. Riley was all gross and humid and sweaty, like he got when he’d been out playing basketball. He reeked.
She stood up abruptly, pushing him away before he could finish wrapping his arms around her. He gave her a hurt puppy dog look of confusion, but she didn’t have time to deal with his feelings. Not now. Now when she was a potential danger to everyone, especially him. She’d ra— done something bad to Spike, and she didn’t even like him. What would the spell make her do to Riley?
“Giles, I need this researched,” she said, handing him the statuette. Her hands shook a little, but she’d managed to keep her voice steady. “I need to know what kind of spells it’s used for and how to reserve them. I, uh… someone was doing something, and I got too close.”
“That’s a Kevary idol,” Anya suddenly announced, sounding excited. Her eyes gleamed like someone had waved money in front of her. “The So’voriku use them in their fertility ritual.”
So’voriku…. That sounded familiar. Why did that sound familiar? That’s what Spike called those demons in the cemetery. And they’d been doing some kind of ritual. Oh, god. Was that what had happened? They’d been caught up in some stupid fertility ritual, and it had made her….
“What does the ritual do?” she demanded when Anya didn’t offer any other information.
The ex-vengeance demon frowned and looked annoyed. “It’s orgasm stuff. Xander doesn’t like it when I talk about orgasms in front of everyone.”
Xander winced and took a step towards her. “Ahn, honey,” he said, “this is different. We need to know what this thing is, so it’s okay to talk about it.”
Anya’s annoyed look was turned onto her boyfriend. “Your rules are very arbitrary and confusing,” she huffed before glancing back at Buffy. “It’s a fertility ritual I found while looking for something to spice up our sex life. Not that we need it that much. Xander is very good at giving org—”
“I don’t know why the truth embarrasses you so much, but fine.” Anya focused her attention back on Buffy. “It seemed very promising until I got to the part about guaranteed pregnancy.”
Guaranteed…. White noise ringing in her ears. A fog over her eyes. Guaranteed pregnancy? She was…. One hand pressed against her lower belly while the other felt blindly for a chair. She dropped down into it with a thump. She couldn’t be pregnant. She couldn’t….
“Good lord,” Giles murmured softly.
Then he was there, kneeling beside her with his hand resting on her knee. Riley was standing at her other side, his hand a heavy weight on her shoulder.
“What….” Buffy began hoarsely. “What all does the ritual do? Explain the whole thing.”
“Um… well, the So’voriku are sexual but genderless,” Anya said matter-of-factly. It was weirdly comforting. It helped Buffy focus without thinking about what had happened. “The ritual uses a sexual act to open up the essences of two beings. The dominant partner becomes sexually aggressive while the submissive one becomes attuned and sensitized to the touch of their partner.
“During the sexual act, their essences are mingled to form an embryo. If the submissive partner wouldn’t normally be able to carry a baby, a sort of artificial womb is created inside of them. The orgasms are supposed to be quite spectacular, which is why I was interested in it.”
“It doesn’t appear you have anything to worry about,” Giles said in obvious relief, squeezing her knee reassuringly and smiling. “The ritual would seem to require two beings to be effective.”
“Spike was there.” The words spilled out of her mouth, barely noticed as Anya’s words circled through her mind. Genderless, sexually aggressive, and submissive partner swirled together to form a disturbing realization.
Willow’s gasp of dismayed sympathy overlapped with Riley and Xander both insisting they would stake the vampire. Like they’d just automatically assumed he’d done something wrong. Rage suddenly boiled up, burning away the shock of what had happened. It wasn’t her usual anger, but it was still familiar. It’s what she had felt last night when she’d slapped the lit cigarette out of Spike’s trembling hand before grabbing the entire pack and crushing it. It was what had fueled the savage beat down as she’d screamed at him about disgusting poisons.
“No one is killing Spike,” she snarled, Riley’s hand falling from her shoulder as she surged to her feet.
She clenched her fists to keep herself from using them. Oh, god, the rage. She wanted to rip and tear…. Smash their heads against the nearest heavy object, just like she’d done to….
“Buffy, he raped you,” Riley said harshly, and there was something else in his voice under that harshness. Something that sounded suspiciously like disgust. “Hostile Seventeen is a an animal, and he needs to be put down.”
“He, he didn’t do it on purpose,” Willow argued, shoving herself between the two of them. “The magic made him do it. That’s what she’s thinking about.” The witch glanced at her, all earnest and anxious. “Right, Buffy?”
“It doesn’t matter if there was magic, Will,” Xander snapped. “If he’d bothered to try, he could have stopped himself. But he didn’t. He’s a rapist, and he needs to pay for it.”
His words were like ice water thrown over her rage, and she hugged herself, feeling sick. If he’d bothered to try…. If she’d bothered to try…. She was the slayer. She should have been strong enough to stop herself. She should have —
“What he needs is to be staked,” Riley spat. “It’s something I should have done a long time ago, before he could do something like this.”
The rage came back. “Don’t. You. Touch. Him,” she grated out through clenched teeth.
Only the fact that they didn’t know where Spike was stopped her from attacking them. Oh, god, what’s wrong with me? Stupid question. She knew what was wrong. She was under a spell. A spell that had turned her into a —
“After the ritual, the dominant partner becomes insanely protective of the baby,” Anya said suddenly. The look she gave Buffy was both knowing and curious.
“That doesn’t explain why she’s defending him,” Riley said bitterly, crossing his arms over his chest and walking away from her. Then he spun to glare. “What is it with you and the monsters? How could you just let him get away with doing that to you?”
A shouting match broke out at that point, Riley against Giles and Xander, who were defending her. All the cards were out on the table, but none of them had figured it out. Except for Anya. The rest were just assuming that Buffy had been the victim. That Spike had somehow attacked her, despite the chip.
“Hey!” Willow’s yell, possibly boosted by magic, cut through the arguing. “Everybody just shut up! All you’re doing is upsetting Buffy, which isn’t good for her or the baby.”
“I’m not pregnant,” Buffy said quietly into the sudden silence. Would they finally understand, once she spelled it out for them? Or would they just keep refusing to see?
“Buffy,” Giles’s voice was gentle as he took a step towards her. “I know you don’t want to believe it, but—”
She laughed. She couldn’t help it. A sort of hysterical giggle that had everyone staring at her. She didn’t want to believe it? She wasn’t the one ignoring reality right now.
“I’m not pregnant,” she repeated. “Ask Anya. She knows.”
“She isn’t pregnant,” Anya agreed. “Which you all should have realized by now.”
Giles frowned and glanced over at her. “I don’t understand. You said pregnancy was guaranteed.”
“Oh, someone got pregnant.” Buffy smiled, but it was a twisted, bitter expression. She kept her eyes locked on Xander as she continued, watching as realization hit and the blood drained from his face. Was he going to stick to what he’d said, or try to backpedal now that he knew the truth? “It just isn’t me. And Spike isn’t the rapist.”
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October 12, 2020 16:47